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War survivor recalls haunting 1962 battle

By The Assam Tribune

ITANAGAR, Nov 19 � The bitter reminiscences of the bloody Sino-India War of 1962 are still afresh in his mind. The sounds of bullets coupled with the screams of dying soldiers still haunt him even at the fag end of the life of Alorno Pul, who served as a porter during the Chinese aggression of 1962.

The 76 year-old Alorno, a local priest and a cultivator from Walla village under Hawai circle of Anjaw district in Arunachal Pradesh, served the Indian Army as a porter during the aggression at the Walong front.

He played the ethnic card to influence the commander of the Chinese army and save Indian lives on the warfront.

48 years after he stood amid ruins to help rebuild the Walong sector in southern Arunachal Pradesh, Alorno Pul was finally awarded recognition by the State Government this November 16 during the National Press Day celebration here.

Alorno was one of several Mishmi (tribe) locals the Indian army had employed to carry rations, guns and ammunition to hill-top forward posts during the 1962 War. He did his job and more � use his ethnic affiliation with some Chinese soldiers toward minimising casualty and destruction.

Alorno�s eyes turned moist as Arunachal PWD Minister Nabam Tuki handed him a �recognition� certificate at State capital Itanagar, 950 km northwest of his village Walla in Anjaw district. But the tears were more for the lives he couldn�t save, and a card Indian Army officers presented him after the War ensuring lifelong access to subsidised Defence canteens.

�He lost the card a few years ago, and he is too modest to seek a replacement,� says S Mining, extra assistant commissioner, Hawai Circle under which falls Alorno�s village. �We hope the army issues this living legend a fresh card.�

Sharing his experiences at the War front, Alorno said, �We were deputed at Walong Army camp and engaged in porter duty to transport ration items besides arms and ammunition up to Namti and Dong where Indian Army were busy fighting the Chinese to protect the country�s territory.

The ALCs (Auxilary Labour Corps) and other porters were engaged in the Helmet Top�.

Alorno along with 122 other villagers from Walla, Kamdi, Changung, Ngi and Sung villages were engaged by the Indian Army as porters during the War. While most of his fellow comrades already died, he is the only one surviving till date.

�We had to work during the night time and were prohibited to use all sorts of lighting including smoking which could attract the Chinese Red Army,� he adds. After five days of the battle, the Indian Army was defeated and retreated from the block points of Namti and Dong along with the porters, while others who could not escape were captured by the Chinese Army, says Alorno.

Recalling the spine-chilling advance of the Chinese army, he said, �A few days into the War I found out their commander was also a Mishmi (Tibet region across the border has a sizeable population of this tribe) named Sohum Towsik. Our village chief and I met him and rekindled long-lost ethnic ties,� he says.

�We didn�t realize when they (Chinese) went back,� says Alorno. �We began carrying rations again, this time to save villagers from starvation.�

�We have to face starvation at Walong following shortage of ration as the village along with its adjoining ones was deserted by the people. The situation forced us to depend on raw paddy abandoned by the villagers,� he adds.

Though both the sides suffered casualties, the Indian Army suffered the worst with large number of deaths, recalls Alorno with tears in his eyes. � PTI

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